Paolo’s Diary: Reflecting on Year 1 with the Orlando Magic

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Orlando Magic rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Paolo Banchero offered a periodic diary for The Associated Press this season to chronicle his first year in the NBA. This is his sixth and final installment. His first talked about how he was preparing for Year 1, his second was on the learning curve, his third discussed the team’s improvement, the fourth followed his first appearance at All-Star weekend, and the fifth was on the stretch run of the season. He finished the year averaging 20.0 points and 6.9 rebounds.)

I think everyone knows what’s possible now.

Our season is over, but I think everyone can see where we’re headed and what we’ve got in front of us. This year was definitely a step forward and I think not making the playoffs just leaves everyone hungry – hungry for more.

We will be more motivated headed into next year, next season. Everybody around here is excited. Players, coaches, staff, everybody. I think we can all feel the energy now.

There were a lot of good moments. My favorite moment of the year maybe was playing in Portland. Just seeing all my friends and having all my family get to watch me play a game, I think that was fun. A good, good experience. It was a full circle moment, being home, having everybody there.

There’s a lot of work to do. I think, with all the games we play, you have to learn how to be able to try and lock in night in and night out. I think I did a better job of that later in the season. Obviously, I had a rough month of February, so being able to bounce back from that and just take it one game at a time, not get lost in all the traveling and all the games, took real focus. I think I did a pretty good job of that the whole year. But I think having to bounce back from a rough stretch made me focus even more.

I’m probably going to take the next two weeks off, then get back to really working, getting back on the court, get back to the AdventHealth Training Center and get to it. I’ll start really conditioning later in the summer. Right now, I’m just trying to build a plan because obviously, this is my first real offseason. I’m going to try to take advantage of it, work harder than I ever have. That’s the plan.

I want to be more consistent, more dangerous from 3-point range next season. There were stretches during this year where I shot the ball well. I just need to find the consistency. I think expanding my range in Year 2, then just getting in best shape I possibly can – I think I was in good shape this year, but just want to take it to another level. To get to where I want to be, everything’s just going to have to be kicked up a notch. And I’m looking forward to that.

It’s over now and I’m definitely mentally tired, physically tired. It was a long season. But now I know what to expect and where I need to train my body more heading into next year. It’s good that I made it through, that I was able to play the amount of games that I did and get into the offseason pretty much healthy.

If Rookie of the Year happens, it would mean a lot. I’ve said multiple times how much it would mean and how long I’ve wanted to win the award and whatnot. I’ve worked hard. But I also think I did a good job of not letting that cloud what we have here and what we have going on here. I didn’t let it mess up anything in terms of the way I was playing or the way we went about playing the game as a team.

It’s been a year now, almost, and Orlando definitely feels like home. It’s starting to really feel like home. I think the first couple months, obviously I was living there, but it didn’t really feel all the way like home. Now just being around the city, spending every day there – and I’ll be there in the offseason – yeah, I can call it home.

And I can’t wait for next season.


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